Capital markets can play key role in Big Four Agenda

President Uhuru Kenyatta. FILE PHOTO | NMG

When world leaders agreed to the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the UN General Assembly Resolution 70/1, the task that lay ahead was enormous. The SDGs are an urgent call to action by all countries to end poverty and other deprivations.

These actions must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all the while tackling climate change and working to preserve oceans and forests. When Kenya adopted the SDGs, it automatically created an obligation for National and County Governments to ensure that their strategies were aligned.

Subsequently, President Uhuru Kenyatta outlined the four main priorities in his government’s agenda, which have come to be known as the Big Four Agenda, namely: - affordable housing, access to healthcare, growth in manufacturing and achievement of food security.

The key catalyst that will spur the achievement of the Big Four Agenda is capital. Approximately $1.4 trillion is needed to end extreme poverty for some 700 million people around the world.

The metric used by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) to measure extreme poverty is anyone living on or below $1.25 a day. Kenya has a significant number of its population living below the poverty line.

Data from a 2016 Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) survey placed the number of people living below the poverty line to be 16.4 million.

The KNBS places overall poverty lines as a Sh3,252 for rural areas and Sh5,995 for urban areas both representing monthly adult equivalent terms.

Although this differs from the BSDC metric, it provides an indicator of the scale of the challenge domestically. The World Bank has estimated that between 50 to 80 percent of funding for the SDGs will come from domestic resources.

For Kenya, this would call for tapping both local and foreign investors. The BSDC authored a report with an estimate that achieving just four SDGs can open about $12 trillion in market opportunities as well as 380 million jobs worldwide.

Added to this is the hope that when Kenya attains Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) Emerging Markets status, as part of the Vision 2030 and the industry’s 10-year Capital Markets Master Plan, it will open Kenya’s market to about $1 trillion of foreign investment. To achieve the national goals there must be concerted effort by both the private and public sectors as we aim to build a better future for the country.

The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) in supporting the implementation of the 10-year Capital Markets Master Plan (2014-2023) recently launched its 2018-2023 Strategic Plan in which it set down key strategic objectives aligned to the Government’s Big Four Agenda.

These objectives and stakeholder initiatives highlight a number of ways in which the capital markets could be leveraged to support the government in delivering on its agenda by bridging the funding gap, thereby contributing to the achievement of some of the SDGs.

CLAY ODARI, advocate, regulatory framework, Capital Markets Authority.

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